Can I Substitute Heavy Cream For Milk – How to Make it Work in Recipes

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Heavy cream is a staple in many kitchens and can be utilized for a variety of baked goods and recipes. But you may be wondering, “Can I substitute heavy cream for milk?” The answer to this question is an important one. We know using the wrong ingredients in a dish can quickly ruin a meal.

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In this post, we’ll dive into whether or not you can substitute heavy cream for milk. We’ll also give you a few other options for milk substitutes. With these, you can feel prepared the next time you find yourself with no milk on hand.

So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

Table of Contents

Is Heavy Cream the Same as Milk?

No, heavy cream is not the same as milk.

Heavy cream is the fattier component of milk. More specifically, it is the fat known as “cream” that is skimmed off of the top of milk that hasn’t been homogenized. This cream typically contains at least 36% milkfat. This is more fat than traditional whole milk which typically only contains anywhere from 3.25-3.5% milk fat.

Because of the amount of fat found in heavy cream, heavy cream is useful for making dishes taste rich and decadent. Heavy cream has a thick, velvety smooth mouthfeel that readily complements soups, stews, casseroles, and other delectable dishes.

In addition to being an important component of many hearty meals, heavy cream is often used for whipping. It is often labeled as “heavy whipping cream” in stores. Heavy cream is called such because it is able to be whipped at high speeds to form stiff peaks. When this happens, the heavy cream can turn into whipped cream. Most recipes call for sugar and a bit of vanilla extract to make the heavy cream sweet before adding it in its whipped form to desserts and fruit.

Unlike heavy whipping cream which can be whipped using a whisk or an electric mixer, milk cannot be whipped. In fact, substituting milk for anything that calls for heavy cream will undoubtedly yield less flavor. The recipe won’t be as full-bodied–although the dish will be much lower in fat.

Therefore, it is important that you know the difference between both milk and heavy cream before swapping them as substitutions for one another when making baked goods and meals.

different milk bottles

Can I Water Down Heavy Cream to Make Milk?

You can absolutely water down heavy cream to make milk. However, you’ll want to adjust your expectations when doing so.

Never water down heavy cream to make milk that you’ll drink on its own. Nothing negative will happen to you if you drink heavy cream “milk” this way. However, you may not find the taste as appetizing as you find traditional milk.

Having said that, watering down heavy cream to make milk is a wonderful way to substitute heavy cream for milk in recipes.

How Can I Substitute Heavy Cream For Milk in a Recipe?

In order to substitute heavy cream for milk in a recipe, you’ll want to dilute your heavy cream. The ratio should be half and half. This means you want to do half water and half heavy cream. Mix the two together and substitute this mixture at a 1:1 ratio for the milk called for in your recipe.

It is important to note that swapping heavy cream for milk can be easily done. But swapping the two the other way may not render results you will like.

Indeed, swapping heavy cream out for milk in its place may not yield as rich of a flavor as you’d hope.Tthe results will likely be much thinner. To compensate, you may wish to add a bit of butter and flour to make up the difference. This can be achieved by making a roux out of your butter and flour before carefully adding the milk at low heat, stirring all the while. This will yield a thick, creamy, and rich imitation of heavy cream when you are in a pinch and don’t have any heavy cream on hand.

creamy soup

Lastly, we never recommend you use heavy cream for milk at a 1:1 ratio. As you might imagine, the results will be incredibly rich, and depending on the recipe you’re using, that might not be a good thing. Instead, be sure to dilute your heavy cream with water before adding it to recipes that call for milk at a 1:1 ratio.

Can Heavy Cream Substitute For 1 Milk?

On its own, heavy cream cannot be substituted for milk at a 1:1 ratio. In most cases, the results will be too thick and may be unappetizing. A quick and easy fix to this, however, is to simply dilute the heavy cream with water by combining half water with half heavy cream. Add this mixture to your recipes cup-for-cup for any dish that calls for milk if all you have on hand is heavy cream.

Just remember never to drink heavy cream by itself to replace milk, even after it is watered down–the taste isn’t quite the same as traditional milk and you may find it a bit too thick.

Can I Use Heavy Cream Instead of Milk in a Cake Recipe?

You can use heavy cream instead of milk in a cake recipe. But you’ll want to bear a few things in mind before you do.

If you add heavy cream to your cake batter cup-for-cup, you will notice that the results are much richer, heavier, and full of fat and calories. For some, this might not be bothersome, but for others, the impact that adding heavy cream has on the texture, flavor, and caloric profile of the cake might be off-putting.

three milk cupcakes with toppings

Instead of adding heavy cream to a cake recipe at a 1:1 ratio, we recommend diluting it first using the methods we have described above. Doing so will yield nearly the same results.

Note: Though you may be diluting heavy cream with water, it is worth mentioning that diluted heavy cream is still much higher in fat and calories than milk. You’ll want to bear this in mind when making up certain recipes. Especially if you are cooking for people with dietary concerns or if you plan to use this particular substitution on a frequent basis.

Can I Substitute Heavy Cream For Milk in Mashed Potatoes?

Yes, you can substitute heavy cream for milk and mashed potatoes. And you know what? It is absolutely delicious!

Adding heavy cream to your mashed potatoes isn’t going to affect the texture in a negative way. In fact, is likely to make your mashed potatoes soar to new heights.

Rather than diluting your mashed potatoes with half water as we’ve recommended before, try cutting the amount of milk you’d normally put in your mashed potatoes down to half (or less) when substituting for heavy cream.

Thus, if you normally put a cup of milk in your mashed potatoes, try adding half of a cup of heavy cream instead. If it isn’t enough liquid, you may add some chicken broth or water to make up for the difference. The results are less-than-healthy but oh-so-delicious mashed potatoes perfect for a dinner or special occasion.


What can be substituted for milk in recipes?

Besides using heavy cream diluted with water in recipes that call for milk, you may also substitute milk with yogurt or sour cream. To do this, consider diluting your yogurt or sour cream by half with water, just as we explained with the heavy cream. Doing this will yield a similar, yet slightly tangier version of milk that you likely won’t notice (or at least won’t mind). 
Other substitutions for milk include half-and-half, water with a little bit of melted butter added and evaporated milk. 
Be careful when substituting milk with options like coconut milk, almond milk, and sweetened condensed milk because, although each of these substitutions may work well in some cases, in many cases they may ruin the overall flavor profile of the dish. 
If you’re wondering,Can you make mac and cheese without milk?, you should know that making macaroni and cheese is a great example of when not to use almond milk, coconut milk, or sweetened condensed milk, as these milks prove to yield an unpleasant flavor in macaroni and cheese; at least in our opinion! 

What recipes naturally include heavy cream as an ingredient?

Rather than watering down your heavy cream to replace milk, you may wish to opt for recipes that call for heavy cream. These recipes are no doubt rich and delectable making them ideal for a special occassion such as a date night, holiday, or birthday party. Recipes that often call for heavy cream include fettucini alfredo, homemade cream of chicken, whipped cream, lemon pudidng, ice cream, and so much more!

Can Heavy Cream Be Substituted For Milk? In Most Cases, Yes!

In most cases, substituting heavy cream for milk is a great idea as long as you dilute it first. The only time we wouldn’t recommend this method is when you are attempting to drink milk as a stand-alone item. In this case, the heavy cream may prove too thick, even after it has been diluted. So may not taste as flavorful as traditional milk.

Still, substituting diluted heavy cream for milk in most recipes will likely turn out better than expected.

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By Anna

Anna Brooks, the voice behind, is a seasoned writer and editor with an insatiable love for food. While not a professional chef, her culinary adventures and unique insights have captivated readers for years. Anna believes in the transformative power of food, stating it "feeds the soul." Dive into her writings for a mix of inspiration, entertainment, and culinary wisdom. Author Pinterest Facebook Twitter Instagram YouTube Tumblr Reddit Quora

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